“Connected factories” interview

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” interview 1 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

  The following interview, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry public relations magazine ” METI Journal ” 2015 years first of May issue Special “Industry 4.0  “in the coverage of the ” factory lead ” need for” and, “introduced in small and medium-sized companies case”. This is a collection of questions and answers about “the direction that Japanese manufacturing should aim for”. 

(Interviewee: Hosei University School of Design, Department of System Design, Nishioka Atsuyuki)

[1] In recent years, the keyword “connected factory” has attracted attention. What kind of transition is Japanese manufacturing now facing? And what needs and changes in social structure are behind this?

  Concurrent with the expansion of the market due to the rapid development of emerging countries, the diversification of consumer needs and the uncertainty of technological progress have become increasingly prominent. As a result, not only small and medium-sized enterprises, but also major manufacturing industries have entered an age where they cannot survive alone. In addition to the digitization and softwareization of products, the digitization and softwareization of production processes are rapidly progressing. In addition, the border between manufacturing and service is almost gone.

  Under these circumstances, inevitably, together with competitiveness by individual elements of technology, by supply chain and engineering chain and other companies ” will lead the power ” is becoming important. Even if the elemental technology does not change that much, simply changing the connection may result in new and innovative products and services. This trend will become even more dramatic as the design and production processes are digitized and softwareized.

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” Interview 2 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

[2]What kind of merits can be expected and innovation in production sites by promoting IoT and realizing a “connected factory”? What are the major differences when compared to conventional “Japanese manufacturing”?

  The goal of “connected factories” is not only the connection between factories, but also the production lines and the technicians who have skills on-site, and the various management tasks, technologies, and ideas. It is a figure connected beyond the constraints of the target or place. In addition, the “connected factory” connects the final consumer who uses the parts and products made in the factory with the production site, connecting the feelings of the creator and the user.

  In order to realize such a “connected factory”, it is important to actively incorporate new technologies such as IoT . However, as a prerequisite, it is essential to open the production process and open the factory. By opening the chest collar and touching the other party, you can build a new relationship of trust. For example, the top-to-bottom competition for small and medium-sized manufacturers has been very exciting in recent years. Under the same rules, each town factory will challenge cutting, surface treatment, and material improvement. Opening the process creates good competition, advances technology, and stimulates demand for it.

  In Industry 4.0, it is true that production line automation and machine intelligence are often taken up symbolically, but automation and intelligence are merely human replacements. From the standpoint of managing a factory, the resulting high costs will limit the areas where it can survive. Perhaps the essence of Industry 4.0 is that the role of data will revolutionize in the coordination of autonomous work including people in the manufacturing organization, and the effective generation and utilization of manufacturing knowledge and wisdom. I am thinking.

  In other words, as manufacturing becomes more and more complex in the future, data has been a supporting factor for decision making, but it is no longer possible to make decisions without data. For example, a high school student who always carries a smartphone should think that the same thing is happening in the world of manufacturing, as it is no longer possible to make friends without a smartphone.

  However, there is no need to change Japanese manufacturing, and there is no reason to change it. However, many responsible people realize and respond as quickly as possible when the data they need is not available when they need it, that is, companies and sites that are well connected are likely to struggle. It seems necessary to keep.

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” Interview 3 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

[3] For example, what is the case of SME manufacturing and ICT fusion? Please tell us about the contents, results, and issues that have surfaced.

  Perhaps the parties and the supporters have not yet reached a common agreement on what kind of shape is desirable as a result of the integration of ICT at production sites or the integration of manufacturing and ICT . Especially in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises, it is not so easy to turn ICT into the independence of each site, the goodness of turning, and the accumulation of know-how by continuing to create it over the years . There is still room for debate.

  While there are small and medium-sized enterprises with a brilliant portion, it is also true that there are a huge number of small and medium-sized enterprises that are extremely low in productivity and are not complimented by their management level. 5 such as a tidy S as well, ICT before you bring up the story of the reduction, reality is there more mountain to be done to reach there. Even if a company excels in production technology and processing technology, there is no guarantee that ICT will go smoothly.

  An excellent small and medium-sized manufacturing industry has supported several companies in the process of becoming a revolutionary company using ICT. These companies are, for example, by the mechanism of production management, the scene did not know what has happened to what exactly now until this is, ICT is visible by the reduction, office man-hours also reduced by half, actually sales also increased significantly (One company received a special award from the Monozukuri Grand Prize, and the other company was recognized as a certified company). However, what I want to emphasize is not such a result, but in the twists and turns that lead to it, I discuss business processes and collaboration with other businesses that I have not thought about on a daily basis, and actually change the final form It is a part of the process of reaching. In other words, ICT rather than the system as a result of the reduction, ICT and learning organization itself in order to master the tools that, it is important process that was saying changed little by little, it thereby began to be a strong constitution I think. (Since there is a serial article for 12 months from April 2013 in a magazine called Factory Management of Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, I will send it if it is good.)

  Such cases are still limited to some highly conscious SMEs, and may be limited to companies that are both financially and human resource-intensive. The same way of working is not expected to be applicable to other ordinary SMEs. Therefore, we are currently doing a project called “Connected Town Factory”. This is because there are three peers who are good at sheet metal processing. In other words, each production process and business process are shown open to each other, the common points and differences are identified, and the business software is built on the cloud jointly. That’s it. There are some competing parts in the same industry, but more than that, we hold meetings at least twice a month as a place to learn from each other and learn good parts from each other.

  In this project, the business software was completed three months after the start, and now the actual production process is registered, and the contents of orders and individual business data are operated on the system, and the problems are revealed little by little. Stage. Participating companies kaizen their company’s work on a daily basis while looking at the data entered into each other and how to proceed with the work. Through these efforts, about 60% of business processes can be standardized, the remaining 20% ​​can be customized individually, and the remaining 20% ​​are likely to be handled by human systems. In other words, while using ICT , each individual work method and production know-how can be linked to each other while remaining unique.

  Perhaps this approach is also effective in fields other than sheet metal. Through these efforts, manufacturing templates (referred to as reference models) are increasing, which enables vendors and SI companies that provide software to provide cheaper and more effective tools and infrastructure. You can expect to provide it. In fact, this initiative is a typical example of a “connected factory” that uses a reference model.

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” Interview 4 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

[4] Where do you think the “strengths” of Japanese companies are? What kind of viewpoint do you think is important for promoting integration with ICT while taking advantage of its individuality?

  Rather than the strengths of Japanese companies, the attitude of Japanese manufacturing, values, and teamwork when setting goals and producing results in the group ultimately become the competitiveness of the Japanese manufacturing industry. I think that it is. Of course, it is also the result of the company’s structure that draws such characteristics and puts it into the quality of the final product, that is, organizational and management capabilities.

  However, when asked what the true “strength” of a Japanese company is, there is actually no clear answer. Certainly, it is possible to discuss objectively the strengths of Japanese factories, such as on-site capabilities and technology for balancing. However, as an actual on-site sensation, as a result of the efforts to enrich the country through manufacturing as a national policy of Japan, 100 million Japanese people have endeavored to support things, so we can catch up and overtake. I feel that it is true that I have come to here if I noticed the results of the unity and overall strength that I have come through every day.

  In that respect, it was a Japanese company’s strength to have a shared vision and social backup system. Currently, it is an era of diversity, a era of relaxation, and an era in which each person lives on their own values. Only one person stands out if he / she does something different, and the current situation is quite comfortable, so a conservative tendency is strengthened. The fact that manufacturing changes greatly with ICT may be the real intention of many people that “it may or may not be so”. In other words, the former strengths are no longer valid.

  However, even if you stop, you can lose everything. How can ICT- based manufacturing expand? One approach is to expand the number of people who are responsible for manufacturing or who are involved in manufacturing. In other words, it is to increase manufacturing in a broad sense (including related services). Traditionally, in addition to people embodying the culture of manufacturing on the factory floor, people with ICT as part of their lives have joined the field, and moved the ground while struggling as outsiders. It is a method.

  To that end, from the perspective of the general public, manufacturing is far away, and from the closed ( 3K -like) image inside the factory, I try to reflect in an open, digital, crafty and fun world. , ICT will need to close the physical distance. 3 D to printer technology is very important in that sense, and simulation technology, IoT technology in the future, further development, if the cost decreases to a value significantly, while the office, in real-time operation of overseas factory I think that participating virtually is not far away.

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” Interview 5 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

[5] What direction is Japanese manufacturing expected to take in the future? Also, what kind of development do you think the technology to “connect” will achieve?

  I think Japanese manufacturing will continue to develop in this situation for the next 10 years. However, if you focus only on manufacturing in Japan, it may be an unfortunate turning point when ICT changes the competitive environment and game rules. It is necessary to thoroughly discuss how to develop Japanese manufacturing not only in Japan but also overseas, and accumulate technology for that purpose.

  First, for domestic manufacturing, we will further promote automation and intelligence, develop and strengthen the core of advanced manufacturing and global niche top manufacturing, and black the intellectual property that is the source of competitiveness. I think it should be used as a base for making boxes. This is probably the direction. In particular, regarding ICT , we will shift to strategic and advanced manufacturing, such as the integration of hardware and software, such as embedded software technology, and the creation of a platform that integrates products and services.

  On the other hand, in the small and medium manufacturing industry, the function of the entire manufacturing industry has been segmented from the perspective of service, as a small working team for high value-added manufacturing, not as a role of receiving employment. I expect it to change. In other words, we believe that strong small and medium-sized manufacturing industry can further enhance its presence as a response to diversity and uncertainty. Furthermore, by promoting “connectivity”, it will be realistic to contract manufacturing services with overseas manufacturers.

  In contrast to such domestic manufacturing, the contrast between light and dark will depend on whether manufacturing can be done overseas, that is, close to the consumption area when viewed globally, depending on whether or not the root of the connection mechanism can be suppressed. Of course, relationships such as selling apps on Microsoft’s OS can also be established, but just accepting unilaterally about the manufacturing factory’s operation system ( 5S and other basic manufacturing concepts and mechanisms) Quality cannot be built in, and the quality of Japanese manufacturing cannot be utilized.

  However, if we can control the platform of the factory’s operation system in some way, Japanese manufacturing will spread widely worldwide. So even if the person who actually operates the company has nothing to do with Japan, it is Japanese manufacturing. As a result, global expansion of related products such as services and FA equipment rooted in Japanese manufacturing will be very easy.

  One of the technologies related to this factory operation system or “connected factory” platform is security technology that protects technology and intellectual property and realizes a fair competitive environment. The second is traceability technology when various things, data, technology, and intellectual property are exchanged between different sites and different companies. Then, three eyes, so the ICT can that it’s digital world and the reality is firm support to be deployed by, Reliant ability technology necessary to operate the cyber space in sync with reality.

  For this third reliability, rather than applying so-called strict standards, we propose, agree, and improve a reference model as a loose standard for each target area and problem. Is important. If such a loose standard can be created in an open system with foreign companies, we can expect Japanese manufacturing to become a global de facto standard. Reliability always requires a flexible way of rethinking standards to the reality.

  In any case, it is necessary for the Japanese manufacturers to take the initiative in this case. We need to fully back up the companies, such as ICT companies as enablers (realization means) to guide the manufacturing industry to such a new world, FA equipment and manufacturing equipment manufacturers are actually data providers for global manufacturing using ICT. 

"Connected factories" interview

“Connected Factories” Interview 6 (First published in Japanese in April, 2015)

  It is true that the introduction of ICT is very difficult for SMEs. One cause is that costs and effects cannot be estimated in advance, and the effects are often not worth the cost. Moreover, even if it is a mechanism that meets the cost, the bottleneck is that there are not enough human resources to actually promote ICT within the manufacturing industry.

  Looking at various examples, it seems that there are many cases where ICT conversion is just computerization or digitization of paper forms. If so, the first thing to do is to visualize the flow of information, not ICT . And if there is a part that has already been converted to data and systemized, it is the meaning of those data (from whom to whom and what to tell). In other words, I would like you to verify that the flow of manufacturing and the flow of work are connected properly and that there are no wastes or mistakes.

  And if there is an irrational or inefficient part, we recommend an approach that makes the information flow little by little by converting the part into ICT . Of course, this cannot be thrown out to ICT vendors or outside. However, the person in charge alone does not know what to do, so let’s start with a comprehensive inspection inside the company using external ICT personnel well. Probably everywhere, there should be a lot of ICT stories.

  In particular, what is important is visualization of the present and the near future, and the addition of value by accumulating and utilizing various data. The accumulation and utilization of various data will be explained because it is immediate and easy to use. For example, information such as process procedure and production condition memos, setup method photographs, customer inquiries, quotation presentation history, etc. is somewhere in the field, but there are many things that cannot be searched in the event of an emergency. . By making these data and searchable, on-site work becomes much easier and the level of service to customers is improved. Such data is a source of competitiveness as an asset.

  For the first time, the benefits and benefits of ICT will become pervasive within the company . This order is important , especially in the case of ICT , especially in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises, when rejection and resistance appear first, frustration, and once you experience such a failure, it becomes a major obstacle when you start again Become. In other words, ICT Daijodan that or, without excessive expectations, visualization of the current work, some of the extension of the improvement of the business ICT by making dissolve successfully, Manufacturing and in the truth of the meaning of ICT and I think fusion can be achieved.

  Last but not least, small and medium-sized manufacturers are based in a position where it is difficult to achieve economies of scale. However, in a world where ICT is used and connected factories are presupposed, it is a major player for global expansion. There will be no necessity, and there will be more opportunities for small and mid-sized companies and small and medium-sized manufacturers to play an active role. This is a great opportunity for a new leap in the times.

  In order to accurately capture large concepts and movements such as Industry 4.0, and at the same time create a flow that involves actual manufacturing sites, each individual and practical problem in each manufacturing industry must be addressed. It is also important to continue to resolve and to convey to the steady that the standardization and open approach is effective in the process.